February’s movies reviewed

Here’s what I watched last month, in order of release year, because why not.

The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
As it is my tradition, I watched the movie as soon as the winter’s first real snow fell. The fact that I’ve long been able to quote every single line of dialogue as it happens didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this masterpiece – in fact, I’m still noticing things I hadn’t before. (A+)

Groundhog Day” (Harold Ramis, 1993)
Another tradition in my household: On February 2, we watch “Groundhog Day.” This time around lots of friends came over (One of them had never seen the film!), we made flapjacks (Is it too early for flapjacks?) and had a great time. (A+)

The Girl Next Door” (Luke Greenfield, 2004)
Wanted to see this because I’m a huge fan of Elisha Cuthbert’s new series, “Happy Endings.” The film didn’t do much for me (Cuthbert sure has gotten a lot better at comedy since), though it did have a few good moments. (C)

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” (Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, 2004)
Awful. I liked the first “Harold & Kumar,” but this is just a waste of time. (D-)

World’s Greatest Dad” (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2009)
To be honest, I almost turned it off after 30 minutes because I didn’t see it going anywhere good. I’m glad Thorsten convinced me to keep watching, because the movie takes a wholly unexpected turn and gets better and better from there on. (B-)

A Serious Man” (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2009)
Even better than I remembered it. Great script, great actors, an absurdly great level of detail to the production design. Maybe – dare I say it? – maybe my favorite Coen Brothers film. (A+)

Barney’s Version” (Richard J. Lewis, 2010)
A couple of great performances, but in essence it’s a bio-pic (even if it’s not about a famous/real person) and it does fall for all the typical bio-pic shortcomings. (C+)

The Fighter” (David O. Russell, 2010)
Despite all the prestige I had low expectations for this one (I don’t like Christian Bale, it’s a movie about guys who volunteer to get hit in the face) but I did kinda like it. Bale really is great here and makes the whole thing worth watching. But in the end it is a movie about guys volunteering to get hit in the face, and it’s hard for me to have any emotional investment in that. (B-)

Four Lions” (Christopher Morris, 2010)
Very funny and very dark (and very British) satire about a couple of wanna-be Mujahideen. Great comedic performances. (B)

Schlafkrankheit” (“Sleeping Sickness,” Ulrich Köhler, 2011)
I was eager to check out this Silver Bear winner after Guy Lodge’s stirring four-star review, but what I saw was just a boring, unremarkable exercise in viewer discomfort. Too bad. (D-)

Bellflower” (Evan Glodell, 2011)
Glodell also stars in his directorial debut and despite its small budget ($17,000, reports IMDb), “Bellflower” is ambitious, stylish, sometimes moving, sometimes shocking evidence of great talent. (B)

Kung Fu Panda 2” (Jennifer Yuh, 2011)
It’s nice enough. (B-/C+)

Take Shelter” (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
The less you know about it before you see it (you should see it) the better, so just this: Michael Shannon! Jessica Chastain! Impending apocalypse – maybe? (B+)

Tyrannosaur” (Paddy Considine, 2011)
Bleak, brutal, hard-to-swallow drama with mesmerizing lead performances from Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman. (B)

The Tree of Life” (Terrence Malick, 2011)
This is maybe the most important film ever made. Here’s why. (A++)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
Meticulously crafted, brooding, anti-Bond spy-thriller that should’ve won Gary Oldman the Oscar. Another great score by Alberto Iglesias plus a whole lot of awesome actors in supporting roles. (A-)

Martha Marcy May Marlene” (Sean Durkin, 2011)
Wow. What a way to leave a stunning first impression by both Durkin and star Elizabeth Olsen, whose haunting, raw talent and beauty take us on a tour-de-force of life in and outside of a cult lead by the ever-fascinating John Hawkes. (B+)

Hugo” (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Trite. My thoughts, in German, here. (C-)


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